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fernando-prass-1-611x600While with the Brazilian Olympic squad preparing for the Rio de Janeiro games, the Palmeiras keeper injured his right elbow and had to undergo surgery. Prass’ forced absence from most of the second half of the 2016 Brazilian Championship will now yield some € 150.000 to the club.

Since 2012, FIFA has adopted a program that protects clubs entrusting players to national squads for FIFA games and tournaments. In 2016, the Olympics were included in the mechanism, which triggered the request from Palmeiras’ legal department. This is the first time FIFA has granted such a request from a Brazilian club, the compensation based on the period of absence and salary of the player. Palmeiras have already received the first instalment, the second and final expected before the end of the month.

Now fully recovered, Prass yesterday were among the players reuniting for Palmeiras’ pre-season, aware he must step up his game to recover his position in the starting eleven. 

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Yesterday’s Palmeiras vs Cruzeiro was a well-played and intense affair, nevertheless resulting in a goalless draw. I could and should elaborate a bit more on the game, the decision to play in Araraquara (the Allianz Parque not available for having received an Andrea Bocelli show the previous night) and the unusual lengths Palmeiras – or rather Paulo Nobre – is ready to go to have national squad members Gabriel Jesus and Mina present and in playing conditions. Could, should, but will not.

The single most important aspect of yesterday’s round happened during Fluminense vs Flamengo, where the runners-up were ahead on two occasions, before Fluminense scored the equaliser, an offside header, five minutes from stoppage time. The linesman raised his flag, but referee Sandro Meira Ricci overruled him, allowing the goal. A few minutes of discussion, as would be expected, then the entire Flamengo bench poured onto the pitch, affirming goalscorer Henrique had indeed been offside. After some ten minutes of this, the referee reversed his decision, disallowing the goal.
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More than one Flamengo player confirmed they learnt Henrique was offside from external sources, i.e. someone watching TV or listening to the radio passing the information on to the bench. Players brought this to the referee, who succumbed to the pressure. Nothing of this appears in the referee’s post-game report, released only this morning: “game stopped for 10 minutes as players from both teams protested against a referee decision relating to an offside situation” and then, a little further down, “nothing out of the ordinary to report”.

Referees acting upon external sources of information are in clear violation of FIFA regulations and of a magnitude that sets the stage for a rematch. Fluminense president Peter Siemsen says he will demand it, but he does not stand a chance. Just as Palmeiras in 2012, when Barcos’ “Hand of God” brace against Internacional was disallowed due to external interference, contributing to the Verdão’s relegation that year.

justice“Why do you defend an unjust goal? Henrique was clearly offside, and justice was made in the end”, some shallow minds argue, failing to see that “making justice” in that particular moment automatically implied in violating justice on every single previous occasion involving controversial refereeing in the championship.

The correct thing would be a rematch. As many clubs as possible should joint ranks with Fluminense (oh, the irony) to endorse that rules and regulations be followed. “Good luck”.

— ooo —

If yesterday’s results stand, Palmeiras are found at 61 points, Flamengo at 60 and Atlético Mineiro, who beat América Mineiro 3-0, at 56. With eight rounds to go. Buckle up, people.

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Today, FIFA on social media paid homage to the first intercontinental world club champions, Palmeiras. The announcement, featured on the federation’s Instagram, reads:
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Green is the colour of envy. ‘The Big Green’ were the envy of the wide world #OnThisDay 65 years ago. A Liminha-inspired @sepalmeiras edged a @juventus team including Giampiero Boniperti & a dazzling Danish triumvirate to become the sport’s first intercontinental world club champions. 100,000 watched that at the Maracanã. One million flooded the streets of São Paulo to welcome their heroes home.

Less informed rival supporters and some malicious journalists have continuously claimed Palmeiras have no world title. Guess this shuts them up for good.

On Sunday, against Atlético Mineiro, the Palmeiras squad will wear a jersey featuring the Brazilian flag hovering above the crest, just like in 1951.  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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I am not even going to try. Sure, Palmeiras faced Chapecoense without three key players: Zé Roberto, Robinho, Thiago Santos. And the Santa Catarina side came boosted with moral after having advanced to the quarterfinals of the South America Cup earlier in the week. Not the ideal scenario for an away game. It got worse when we saw the line-up.

Coach Oliveira opted for Amaral besides Arouca and kept Egídio on the left flank. Egídio might have some offensive qualities (although these have been absent as of late) but his defensive qualities is non-existent. An open invitation to advance. Immediately explored. And when Arouca was injured halfway through the first half, our defensive lines fell apart completely.

What about Palmeiras’ strong offense? Dudu, Barrios, Gabriel Jesus and Rafael Marques were all there, but there was no midfield to talk about, no one exercising the playmaker. Again, coach Oliveira curiously opted for keeping both Allione and Fellype Gabriel out of the starting eleven, leaving it to Rafael Marques and Dudu to act out the roles of Robinho and Zé Roberto. No go.

All of the above is however not enough to explain the shamefully inflated score. Our men resigned. They should never. Never. Not only the squad needs an earful: also coach Oliveira must feel a bit of heat.

Now don’t think the absurdities stop there. The referee yesterday put on quite a show. After a duel between Egídio and Barbio, the former was shown a red card and sent off. Minutes later, in his earpiece, referee Jaílson Freitas received word from the fourth referee, trotted over to him and learnt that Egídio did not commit a foul, that he had won the ball cleanly in dispute with the Chapecoense forward. Result: Freitas overturned his decision and brought Egídio back from the locker room.

True, Egídio did not commit the foul, but that is irrelevant considering the much more important question: why did it take the fourth referee several minutes to get his ocular testimony through to referee Freitas? There is only one plausible explanation: the fourth referee did not actually see the Egídio vs. Barbio situation, but was informed about it by outsiders, by people with access to television replays. Obviously, a gigantic breach of FIFA regulations.

It has been discussed here before. The question of whether or not to adopt electronic/external aid for football referees is a necessary (and to a certain extent ongoing) debate, but any implementation of the sort must take place in the open, in full transparency and with FIFA authorization. The discussion [sic] that the 2012 handball incident stirred led absolutely nowhere. Don’t expect different in 2015.
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The Brazilian championship now takes a 10-days break as World Cup classifiers are played. This is bad news for Palmeiras supporters, who will have this last game glued to their retinas with nothing to replace it with. On the other hand, the break is a godsend for Marcelo Oliveira and the squad, who must take full advantage of the opportunity to reflect and correct. Nine rounds to go, Palmeiras in sixth with 45 points, one point from that Libertadores spot and with upcoming semi-finals in the Brazil Cup. No time for regrets.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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validvia-luismoura-aeJorge Valdiva left Palmeiras, said his goodbyes. Posed with Al Fujairah directors, receiving flowers and all. Allegedly sealed a deal. Then took 10 days off, travelling to Disney. At a press conference in São Paulo last Thursday, Valdivia explained he had no way of knowing the deal never went through, that “the dad of the sheik running the club wanted the money for hospitals and schools”. Thus, Valdivia aka Walt Divia (or Valdisney, your pick) is back at Palmeiras, says he’s happy to be so, never wanted to leave really. Reintegrated in the squad, training hard, he should make his new debut against São Paulo on Sunday 17 August.

However unlikely the story Valdivia (and Palmeiras too, for that matter) presents, there’s one thing more important at the moment: Palmeiras need Valdivia. Be it for a few games before he’s truly passed on to another club for a hefty sum, be it for staying the whole season and significantly raise the offensive quality of Palmeiras’ midfield. For now, it’s all about swallowing pride and doing the best of the situation, even if that means admitting the Master Trickster back. Palmeiras need to urgently climb positions in the Brasileirão tables. And will also need Valdivia for the remainder of the Brazil Cup, now that the team have advanced to the last 16 after eliminating Avaí from Florianópolis.

— ooo —

Things seem more straightforward with Jonathan Cristaldo. The 25-year-old Metalist attacker from Argentina arrived in São Paulo Friday early morning and passed his medical exams. Still awaiting some documents, he’s expected to sign and be formally announced on Monday. Expected. If not before, the Mickey Mouse transfer involving Valdivia teaches us never to celebrate before ink has been left drying on paper.

— ooo —

Gareca has been testing 17-year-old Gabriel Fernando from the youth academy. Rightly so: the kid has so far scored 21 goals in eight games in the São Paulo U17 championships. Training with the first team gives him the opportunity to get used to the different rhythm and pressure. I don’t believe Gareca will integrate the kid into the squad quite yet, but Gareca is known for giving promising players a shot at stardom. Stay tuned.

— ooo —

Tomorrow Palmeiras take on Atlético Mineiro – restructuring after the exit of Ronaldinho Gaúcho. With Diogo back after a muscular injury and Allione giving offensive direction on the midfield, Palmeiras are going after the three points in this difficult away game.

— ooo —

Pal51In the midst of all uncertainties, one thing we palmeirenses have always known is that Palmeiras are the first World Club Champions. Those who witnessed the feat in 1951 knows it. And you don’t have to dig far for proof, just check out newspapers from the era.

The Rio Cup of 1951 – a tournament where the best teams on the planet had been summoned to participate in what can only be described as the first International Interclub Championship – included Nacional – the base of Uruguay’s 1950 World Champion National Team; Juventus (Italy), Olympique de Nice (French champions) the Red Star (Yugoslav champions) and Sporting (Portuguese champions). Brazil was represented by Palmeiras and Vasco da Gama (Rio de Janeiro). The final was played in two turns and Palmeiras got the better of Juventus. The title was at the time greatly commemorated all over Brazil, as Palmeiras lifted the trophy of the first International Interclub Championship.

Finally, also FIFA seems ready to make the formal recognition. In an fresh interview for the newspaper “Estado de São Paulo”, FIFA president Joseph Blatter confirmed that Palmeiras would shortly be receiving a certification. Blatters’s statement annoyed FIFA press officers present during the interview, possibly because he shouldn’t be spilling the beans. No harm done, Mr. Blatter: we knew a recognition would come sooner or later.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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It’s underway, the 2014 World Cup.

And if it hadn’t been for the underlying tension in the air, it would’ve been amusing the way sports journalists, national coach Scolari and others yesterday repeated how pleased the Brazilians seemed to be and how much they supported the National Squad. “When Brazil scored, I could hear fireworks from outside. People celebrating, even outside the stadium”, an ESPN reporter marvelled from within the Itaqueirão. “If there’s ever been such a thing as paulistas not supporting the national squad, today we had the proof that it doesn’t exist”, Scolari stressed when initiating the post-game press conference. You see, Brazilians rooting for their team has become something not to be taken for granted. At least not in its totality.

dilmaopeningPresident Dilma Rousseff did not address the crowd in the stadium or declare the opening of the World Cup, but was still roundly booed on several occasions during the game. Even so, Brazil did indeed come to a halt yesterday, the nation tuning in to watch Brazil defeat Croatia 3-1 in a game filled with dubious calls from the referee.

Clashes between protesters and riot police took place in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Salvador and in the Federal District. Some 20 persons were injured – among these four journalists – and close to 70 persons arrested. Police reportedly put rubber bullets and teargas to good use.

So far, the tournament has been characterised by the good-to-excellent quality of the games, combined with bad-to-disastrous refereeing: Croats were furious after yesterday’s defeat and Mexico would have been even madder had they not beaten Cameroon 1-0, after having two legit goals disallowed. While FIFA insists on not letting technology in…

The Netherlands crushed Spain 5-1. At halftime, Chile are beating Australia 2-1, with one brace from Valdivia. Valdivia is set to leave Palmeiras after the World Cup, so I guess the better he performs, the higher the price tag, which equals more money for Palmeiras. Thus, with all my heart: good luck, Valdivia! May you play your best football ever in the coming four weeks.

Tomorrow, the highlight is England vs. Italy in Manaus. I’m watching the game at the UK Embassy, wearing my 1993 Newcastle jersey.

Até mais, amigos.

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Palmeiras v2.0 came on last Saturday, still a few players short: Alan Kardek recovering form, Vilson idem, Eguren signed but not yet with all papers cleared for play, and Leo Gago with a few weeks to go before full recovery.

Now, what we DID have was Prass between the posts, Valdivia commanding the midfield, Charles the pitbull by his side and returning youngster Luís Felipe on the right flank. With six minutes Leandro opened the scorecard. Oeste threw away a few good opportunities to equalise (Kleina needs urgently correct defensive positioning, especially airballs) but stopped short, seeing Palmeiras double up with Leandro again just before halftime. Second half was Palmeiras steamrolling all over Oeste, Charles bagging twice and closing the scorecard 4-0.

Yes, the opponent wasn’t the strongest, but nevertheless Palmeiras showed new qualities and personality. Valdivia was directly involved in three of the four goals. Mendieta came on in the end and didn’t score twice due to one great save by the Oeste keeper and one bad call by Caio, who opted for shooting when he should’ve passed the ball.

All in all a good performance, especially the offensive moves. If the new pieces fit as expected, Palmeiras will sail through the Brasileirão like a breeze and be a serious contender for the Copa do Brasil title.

Next challange is ABC, at the Pacamebu stadium, this coming Friday. A good crowd is expected: it’s been a while since Palmeiras played in São Paulo due to the four-game punishment imposed due to incidents last year.

— ooo —

Eguren_unveiledSpeaking of Sebastián Eguren: the defensive midfielder was unveiled today, receiving the #4 jersey from the hands of president Paulo Nobre. The 32-year-old was excited about the future of not only playing in Brasil but for a big club like Palmeiras. Having spent the last ten years abroad, playing mainly for clubs in Spain and the Nordic countries, Eguren expects no difficulties in adapting to Brazil. Those who saw his first training session at Palmeiras can nothing but approve: the tall member of the Uruguayan national squad has a strong presence, showed passing qualities and good positioning.

— ooo —

RamosAt Sharja FC, Maurício Ramos is the new owner of the #4. Officially unveiled at the beginning of the week, the centre-back, with close to 200 games for Palmeiras, expressed his gratitude toward club and supporters alike, showing great appreciation for the almost four years he spent at the Verdão.

Anything Palmeiras wishes Maurício the best of luck in this new endeavour.

— ooo —

Maikon Leite said his goodbyes, left… and boomeranged back. There are few details available, but something obviously got in the way of his transfer to Qatar club Umm-Salal Sports. Training isolated from the rest of the squad while awaiting a definition in regard to his future, things have certainly looked better for the 24-year-old striker. A possibility is re-inserting Leite into the negotiations with Portuguesa in the Ayrton-for-Luis Ricardo negotiations.

— ooo —

Remember the 2011 Martinuccio case? Palmeiras lawyers have silently and patiently been working on the case, awaiting a decision by FIFA. Palmeiras are claiming roughly US$ 4.5 million in compensation, in addition to the suspension of the player and a fine for Fluminense. Palmeiras’ lawyer André Sica is leaving for Zurich this Friday to check up on the case. “We’re looking after our interests and only want what’s just”, Sica stated. One can only hope that sooner or later, Martinuccio – currently at Cruzeiro – and Fluminense will pay a price for breaching the pre-contract.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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